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The 2020s May Be The Golden Age Of Clinical Research

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Mahmoud Abudeif, May 30, 2021.

  1. Mahmoud Abudeif

    Mahmoud Abudeif Golden Member

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    Pervasive diseases such as Alzheimer's and type 2 diabetes tend to be widely and deeply feared because they often imply a radical change in both lifestyle and quality of life, if not ultimately death. Type 2 diabetes in particular is expected to become an ever-increasing problem among a global population that is becoming ever more obese. In the UK alone, Diabetes UK recorded a doubling of the number of people with type 2 diabetes in the last 15 years in what could just be a flavor of what is to come on a global scale.

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    With Alzheimer's expected to be surging by 2050 as well, the race is on for finding cures - and indeed, new medicinal discoveries and breakthroughs are always being made. With the current Covid-19 crisis having injected particular momentum into treatment research for all kinds of conditions rare and common, governments and researchers would be well-advised to preserve this momentum going forward.

    Changing the game for type 2 and 1 diabetes

    Case in point for this is an undeniably surprising finding, where, according to new research, Tarantula venom could become a future treatment for type 2 diabetes. Although this research is still in its early phase, scientists found that a specific venom molecule, designated ΔTRTX-Ac1, mimics the functions of insulin-producing beta cells by increasing insulin secretion two-fold. The exact mechanics remain unclear for the moment, though the scientists suspect that the molecule acts as a gatekeeper for channels on beta cell surfaces, thereby allowing other molecules to enter and leave the cells.

    The molecule seems to be an appetite suppressant as well, which could help in preventing overeating and consequently obesity, filling an important niche in current treatments. What's more, the type 2 diabetes medications available don't preclude diabetes patients from having unsafe blood sugar levels. According to scientists and doctors, the complexity of the disease means the same drugs don't always work well for every patient. In the future, venom research could provide a more effective treatment and help reduce the long-term adverse side-effects linked to inadequately balanced diabetes type 2.

    Similar, if more cautious, developments have also been taking place with regards to type 1 diabetes. Last year, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) began offering the glucose-decreasing dapagliflozin pill to be used in conjunction with insulin therapy for type 1 diabetics. The one-a-day treatment is the first of its kind, and it is estimated that up to a third of people with type 1 diabetes in England and Wales may be eligible for the drug.

    Until the introduction of dapagliflozin, available treatment for type 1 diabetes was limited to injections or infusions of insulin. Balancing insulin levels with varying factors, such as food, exercise and illness, has proved difficult for many patients. Often enough, insulin therapy alone is an insufficient manager of blood glucose levels. By blocking the kidneys from absorbing glucose into the body, dapagliflozin could add another layer of diabetes management and increase the overall health and life expectancy of type 1 diabetics - a great leap forward, especially in the wake of disparaging news about AstraZeneca's experimental diabetes drug Farxiga.

    With Leukine against Alzheimer's - and Covid-19?

    While progress against one scourge of Western civilization marches on, there is also notable progress in fighting against another: Alzheimer's disease. Of the more than 50 million people with dementia worldwide, as many as 70% of cases are as a result of Alzheimer's. The physical, psychological and economic impact of Alzheimer's on patients and their communities is immeasurable.

    Among the new treatments being developed, Leukine was found to lead to "significant reversal of cognitive impairment and normalizing of blood-based biomarkers of dementia in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD)." This also includes memory improvement, a vital factor for patient quality of life and overall well-being. As a result of these encouraging findings in a Phase 2 trial, University of Colorado scientists suggested that Leukine should be further tested as a treatment for the reversal of certain aspects of Alzheimer's in the future.

    The drug, developed by US-based Partner Therapeutics, is also undergoing trials for the treatment of Covid-19. In February, a randomised trial by researchers of the University Hospital Ghent suggested that Leukine leads to improved oxygen levels in patients with acute respiratory conditions and could thus be of interest for Covid patients as well.

    As far as Alzheimer's is concerned, a new radiation treatment has also been found by another group of researchers to reduce Alzheimer's symptoms, with a pilot study indicating that low-dose radiation can help reduce the effects of the condition and help restore the patient's communication. In one hospice patient with the disease, various treatments of radiation to the brain saw substantial improvements in "speech, cognition, movement and appetite." The woman was then discharged from the hospice to a long-term care home.

    Although more research is needed, the examples above show that the hunt for treatments is not only on but advancing in leaps and bounds. As demonstrated by the past eighteen months of the Covid-19 pandemic, biomedical research and clinical practice form the backbone of modern life. These latest developments in the world of diabetes and Alzheimer's offer further proof that surprising treatments for common, and often hugely destructive, medical conditions are out there. What is needed now is for clinical research to benefit from sufficient funding and the appropriate political conditions under which to conduct research properly.

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